100 Creatives 2013: Kerrelyn Sparks, Bestselling Romance Author

Categories: 100 Creatives


Novelist Kerrelyn Sparks owes her success to two things: determination and the undead.

Sparks had toyed with the idea of writing for years but never actually put pen to paper. "I let my self-doubt get to me for years. Finally, I thought, 'Why do I keep putting this off?' I decided to at least try. If I didn't sell a book, I could still look back and say, 'I gave it my best shot' instead of 'Why didn't I ever do that?' I wrote a book the first year; it didn't sell. I wrote a book the second year [a historical romance], and that one sold."

Sparks's initial success was short-lived. Before the book was released, her editor left the publishing house, which then cut ties with Sparks. "It was a bittersweet debut. By the time my first book came out, I had already been dropped by my publisher, my agent had dropped me. Everything fell apart, and I was worried that my career was over before it even started. That was a really rough time for me. I had to take a hard look at myself. I realized if I wanted to do this, I'd have to reinvent myself."

Cue the vampires. Moving from historic to paranormal romance, Sparks wrote How to Marry a Vampire Millionaire and found a new agent. "Within a week, we had several offers and it went into auction. Avon bought it and from then on, it's been just one book after another."

Photo by Jennifer Berry/Studio 16
The book coming out in August, Less than a Gentleman, is number 14.

"When I meet people, almost everyone says, 'Oh, I have an idea for a book.' The published authors are the ones that didn't give up. I don't know that I'm more skilled and talented than anyone, it's just that I'm able to sit down and do the work. "

What She Does: "If somebody asks me what I do, I tell people I write romantic comedy for HarperCollins. Women who read romance novels know what I mean. Men usually just hear HarperCollins and figure it has something to do with the publishing business, but they're not sure exactly what."

Why She Likes It: "I love falling in love with the hero along with the heroine. When you finish the book, that's a wonderful feeling. It's such a long journey, just knowing that you survived it and your characters survived it, that you left everyone happy and taken care of, that's a great feeling. The funnest part is connecting with readers at events. That's when you get your reward for all those long, long hours where you were alone in your writing cave and you were ripping words out of your gut.

"It's not always an easy process; there are parts that are hard. There are moments when the story gets dark. If you're a reader, you live in that moment for 30 minutes or so, but a writer lives in it for several weeks and it can be really painful because you feel for these characters that you've grown to love."

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